“Our holy religion,” says this sneering writer, “takes but little notice of the most heroic virtues, such as zeal for the public and our country.” That Christianity takes but little notice of what is commonly called patriotism is admitted; and if Lord Shaftesbury had been free from that “narrowness of mind” which it is his intention here to censure; yea, if he had only kept to his own definition of virtue—” a regard to those of our own kind or species;” he would have taken as little. By the public good, he evidently means no more than the temporal prosperity of a particular country, which is to be sought at the expense of all other countries with whom it happens, justly or unjustly, to be at variance. Christianity, we acknowledge, knows nothing of this spirit. It is superior to it. It is not natural for a Christian to enter into the antipathies, or embroil himself in the contentions of a nation, however he may be occasionally drawn into them. His soul is much more in its element when breathing after the present and future happiness of a world. In undertakings, both public and private, which tend to alleviate the miseries and enlarge the comforts of human life. Christians have ever been foremost; and when they have conceived themselves lawfully called, even into the field of battle, they have not been wanting in valour. But the heroism to which they principally aspire is of another kind; it is that of subduing their own spirit, doing good against evil, seeking the present and eternal well-being of those who hate them, and laying down their lives, if required, for the name of the Lord Jesus.
Such is the “narrow spirit” of Christians; and such have been their “selfish pursuits.” But these are things which do not emblazon their names in the account of unbelievers. The murderers of mankind will be applauded before them. But they have enough; their blood is precious in the sight of the Lord, and their names are embalmed in the memory of the upright.”
Excerpt From “The Gospel Its Own Witness”, 1799
Fuller, Andrew, The Works of Andrew Fuller. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007.